Poem by Dr. George Onsy
WHEN I WRITE IN GERMAN – 1
(My English version of what I wrote in German; WENN ICH AUF DEUTSCH SCHREIBE)
This is one of my Multilingual Poetic Series written in different languages to address each language’s country, conversing with each about their Culture, Civilization and History through an Eternal Viewpoint. Below the poem, you will find a full list of the sources for the images I’ve incorporated in the post’s visual attachment. The German original poem is below.
WHEN I WRITE IN GERMAN – 1
When I write in German,
I can hear that bitter cry
Coming from Goethe’s Faust
As Margareta still mourns:
“I’m still so young, still so young too!
And already I must die!
I was pretty too,
and that’s the reason why.”.
Then another voice reaches my ears
As if it were its echo:
“Who has watched beauty with his eyes
Is already handed to death
He would for no use on earth survives
And yet, fearing his end he loses breath.”
But shall I simply ask its writer,
August Graf von Platen:
Why must man before death be so shaken?
And here, I wait for long to get no answer
Till another one of your children, Germany,
Replies with his immortal verses:
“A dream is our life on earth here
Just like shadows on the waves,
We float and disappear
And measure our sluggish steps
By space and time …”
Intuitively, my soul, Goethe’s
And Platen’s concluded these verses
That Johan Gottfried Herder has just uttered,
Reciting together his last:
“And we are (and don’t know it) in the middle of Eternity.”.
Yes, so true, as the Mystic Chorus
From ‘Faust’ sings finally:
“All that must disappear
Is but a parable;
What lay beyond us, here
All is made visible;
Here deeds have understood
Words they were darkened by…”
And here I’m proclaiming:
Eternity, Eternity, Eternity!
You aren’t something just to believe in
Rather to fully live by.
Oh Germany dear,
How I wish that you would forever
With a related design I’ve created to display all what I’ve mentioned above in verses, (from left to right):
– ‘Faust’s Dream, 1880’ by Spanish Painter Luis Ricardo Falero (1851-1896), that I’ve combined with an inverted detail from ‘Goethe in the country’ (1787) by German painter Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein (* 1751; † 1829) (on the right side) – Städel-Museum Frankfurt.
I’ve created this combination between the two paintings to depict the idea that Goethe himself had a strong tendency to sexuality as his protagonist Faust.
** Johann Wolfgang Goethe (* 28. August 1749 in Frankfurt am Main; † 22. März 1832 in Weimar), was a German poet and a natural scientist. He is considered one of the most prominent figures of German Literature.
– ‘Margreta before Mother of Sufferings’, before 1860 by German painter Wilhelm von Kaulbach that I’ve combined with a detail (on its top right corner) from ‘Faust and Marguerite’, by Ary Scheffer, a French painter of Dutsch origin – This is the French version of Faust Play inspired by Gounod, the French Operalist’s Opera, Faust. His focus here is on Margreta’s tragedy as she was the victim of Faust’s desire obtained by Satan’s help.
– The German poet, Johann Gottfried Herder (bottom left), a portrait by Anton Graff, a Swiss painter of Classicism, 1785, GleimhausHalberstadt.
** Johann Gottfried Herder, (Nickame Gottfried, * 25. August 1744 in Mohrungen, Ostpreußen; † 18. Dezember 1803 in Weimar), was a German poet, translator, theologian as well as a history- and culture philosopher of Weimar Classicism. He was one of the most influential writers and thinkers of the German language in the Age of the Enlightenment together with Goethe, Wieland, Schiller and Weimar.
– The German poet August Graf von Platen-Hallermünde (bottom right) portrayed on an oil painting by Moritz Rugendas about 1830. Johann Moritz Rugendas (1802-1858) was an artist coming from Augsburg in the 19th Century.
** August Graf von Platen-Hallermünde (born as Graf Karl August Georg Maximilian von Platen-Hallermund) (* 24. Oktober 1796 in Ansbach, Ansbach-Bayreuth; † 5. Dezember 1835 in Syrakus, Königreich beider Sizilien) was a German poet. He was mostly named as August von Platenoder August Graf von Platen.
Faust is a tragic play in two parts by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, usually known in English as Faust, Part One and Faust, Part Two. Although rarely staged in its entirety, it is the play with the largest audience numbers on German-language stages. Faust is considered by many to be Goethe’s magnum opus and the greatest work of German literature.
The earliest forms of the work, known as the Urfaust, were developed between 1772 and 1775; however, the details of that development are not entirely clear. Urfaust has twenty-two scenes, one in prose, two largely prose and the remaining 1,441 lines in rhymed verse. The manuscript is lost, but a copy was discovered in 1886.
The first appearance of the work in print was Faust, a Fragment, published in 1790. Goethe completed a preliminary version of what is now known as Part One in 1806. Its publication in 1808 was followed by the revised 1828–29 edition, the last to be edited by Goethe himself.
Goethe finished writing Faust Part Two in 1831; it was published posthumously the following year. In contrast to Faust Part One, the focus here is no longer on the soul of Faust, which has been sold to the devil, but rather on social phenomena such as psychology, history and politics, in addition to mystical and philosophical topics. The second part formed the principal occupation of Goethe’s last years.
Wenn ich auf Deutsch schreibe, liebes Deutschland,
ich würde diesen Schrei von Gretchen hören,
als er aus Goethes dunkler Schöpfung ‘Faust’ kommt :
Bin ich doch noch so jung, so jung!
Und soll schon sterben!
Schön war ich auch, und das war mein Verderben.
Dann kann ich auch eine andre Stimme hören:
“Wer die Schönheit angeschaut mit Augen
ist dem Tode schon anheimgegeben
wird für keinen Dienst auf Erden taugen
und doch wird er vor dem Tode beben”.
Aber will ich einfach August Graf von Platen
fragen: Warum sollte man ‘vor dem Tode beben’?
Hier warte ich lange, aber keine Antwort
bis ein anderer deiner Söhne, Deutschland, antwortet:
“Ein Traum ist unser Leben auf Erden hier.
Wie Schatten auf den Wogen schweben und schwinden wir,
Und messen unsre trägen Tritte nach Raum und Zeit;
Sofort vervollständigen meine Seele
mit Goethes und Plattenes
zusammen diese Verse von Johan Gottfried Herder:
“Und sind (und wissen’s nicht) in Mitte der Ewigkeit”.
Ja wirklich wie der CHORUS MYSTICUS
von ‘Faust’ endlich singt:
Ist nur ein Gleichnis;
Hier wird’s Ereignis;
Ewigkeit, Ewigkeit, Ewigkeit
es ist nicht nur zu glauben
doch ist es voll zu leben.
wie ich wünschte du würdest
ewig DEUTSCHLAND bleiben!